Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló had a stern warning for President Donald Trump as the president’s feud with the U.S. island territory’s politicians over its disaster relief management continued.
“If the bully gets close, I’ll punch the bully in the mouth,” Rosselló told CNN in an interview. “It would be a mistake to confuse courtesy with courage.”
Rosselló told the network he wouldn’t be bullied by the White House as he continues to press for disaster relief assistance tied to Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and had impacts that linger over a year and a half later.
CNN reported Rosselló has requested a meeting with Trump to discuss the disaster relief but that Trump has declined.
The rift between Trump and Puerto Rico grew this week when, in a meeting with Senate Republicans, the president again questioned the amount of funding the island was receiving for disaster relief, CNN and the Washington Post reported.
During the meeting, Trump questioned why Puerto Rico received more than $90 billion in aid, the two outlets reported. However, Congress has appropriated only $20 billion in Department of Housing and Urban Development disaster funds for Puerto Rico, and only $1.5 billion have been approved for spending, the outlets report.
“It’s unfortunate that we are having to hear this. These statements lack empathy, but more so they lack the true facts of the matter,” Rosselló told CNN.
In a statement to CNN White House spokesperson Judd Deere said, “The Trump administration is committed to the complete recovery of Puerto Rico.”
Rosselló is in Washington this week in a push for Puerto Rico’s statehood.
Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., introduced a bill Thursday that would make Puerto Rico the 51st state.
Read more at usatoday.com.